Wednesday, May 11, 2016

As Firms Abandon Arctic Drilling, Obama Comes Under Pressure to Do More to Avert Dangerous Warming There

March 2016 Surface Temperature Anomoly (Credit: NASA) Click to Enlarge.
In a statement Tuesday, Shell spokesman Curtis Smith said, “After extensive consideration and evaluation, Shell will relinquish all but one of its federal offshore leases in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea.”

“Separate evaluations are underway for our federal offshore leases in the Beaufort Sea,” Smith said, adding that the company plans to remove its remaining drilling equipment from the Arctic in the summer.  “This action is consistent with our earlier decision not to explore offshore Alaska for the foreseeable future.”

Many Democratic lawmakers and environmental activists, however, are pushing for the administration to ban Arctic drilling altogether as part of the next five-year leasing plan, which runs from 2017 to 2022.  Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), joined by Robert Dold (R-Ill.) and 66 House Democrats, sent a letter last week to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell calling for the administration to revise the leasing plan before it becomes final.

“As this administration laid out in the U.S.-Canada Joint Agreement, our nation should be focusing on achieving strong conservation goals for the Arctic and making decisions to develop oil and gas resources only when the highest safety and environmental standards are met, including national and global climate and environmental goals,” they wrote.  “To meet these goals, the Arctic Ocean should be permanently protected from oil drilling, not used to drill for more fossil fuels that we will not need — and must not burn — if we are serious about powering our future with clean energy.”
Some advocacy groups, such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, are lobbying Obama to ban leasing in the Arctic altogether, under a provision in the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. The president has invoked that authority twice, once to protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay in 2014, and again in 2015 to safeguard part of Alaska’s Arctic coast.

The new push comes as the leaders of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway will meet with Obama at the White House Friday, to discuss issues including global security, trade and climate change.  The precarious state of the Arctic will come under discussion, according to both U.S. and foreign officials, and the group is still negotiating the final communique they will issue on the topic.

Read more at As Firms Abandon Arctic Drilling, Obama Comes Under Pressure to Do More to Avert Dangerous Warming There

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